South Carolina and Chattanooga coach Lamont Paris have finalized a five-year deal to make him the school’s next men’s basketball head coach, sources told ESPN on Monday.
The deal still requires the formality of board approval later this week.
Paris has been at Chattanooga for five seasons, going 87-72 during that span. After his team struggled in 2018 and ’19, Paris has gone 65-29 over the past three seasons. This season, the Mocs went 27-8, winning the Southern Conference regular-season title and the SoCon conference tournament title.
In the first round of the NCAA tournament, Chattanooga led 4-seed Illinois until the final minute before falling, 54-53.
Prior to taking over at Chattanooga, Paris was an assistant coach at Wisconsin for seven seasons — giving him experience recruiting at the high-major level. He also spent time as an assistant at Akron and a trio of non-Division I schools: IUP, DePauw and Wooster, where he played his college ball.
Paris replaces Frank Martin, who was fired last week after 10 seasons in Columbia. Martin made just one NCAA tournament during his time at South Carolina, but that trip to the tournament in 2017 resulted in the Gamecocks’ first Final Four appearance. Martin went 171-147 overall at South Carolina, including 18-13 this season, 9-9 in the SEC.
One of the attractive qualities for South Carolina officials was Paris’ experience recruiting, evaluating and developing high-major players at Wisconsin. During Paris’ time in Madison under Bo Ryan and Greg Gard from 2010 to 2017, Wisconsin reached a pair of Final Fours (2014 and ’15) and played for the 2015 national title.
Wisconsin won an average of 27 games per year during his seven seasons there, and Paris played a key role in both recruiting and developing some of the linchpin Badgers players from that era: Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig and Ethan Happ .
He showed the ability to build a high-major-caliber roster at Chattanooga, as among his best players were transfers Malachi Smith (Wright State), Silvio De Sousa (Kansas) and Josh Ayeni (South Alabama/St. Bonaventure). Paris recruited fifth-year senior David Jean-Baptiste, who delivered the 30-foot buzzer-beater that clinched the Southern Conference championship and delivered Chattanooga’s first NCAA tournament bid since 2016.